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UCP to allow private sale of blood in Alberta

“If passed, this bill will divert donations away from Canadian Blood Services to private buyers, who can then sell them to the highest bidder on world markets,” said NDP Health Critic David Shepherd.

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The NDP claims the UCP is about to repeal a law in Alberta that bans the private sale of blood.

The NDP claims Tany Yao, UCP MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, will bring forward a private member’s bill in the coming days that will repeal Alberta’s ban on the private purchase of human blood.

Buying human blood was banned in Alberta in 2017 by the NDP’s Voluntary Blood Donation Act. Yao’s bill is titled the Voluntary Blood Donation Repeal Act, the NDP said in a release.

“If passed, this bill will divert donations away from Canadian Blood Services to private buyers, who can then sell them to the highest bidder on world markets,” said NDP Health Critic David Shepherd.

“This is very bad for Albertans. It flies directly in the face of the Krever Inquiry.”

 The Krever Inquiry investigated Canada’s tainted blood scandal, in which tens of thousands of people were infected with hepatitis C or HIV through tainted blood products.

The inquiry’s report led to the creation of a single national agency, Canadian Blood Services. 

Ontario, Quebec and B.C. also have legislated bans on the purchase of human blood, the NDP release said. Manitoba has a single paid-donation centre for rare blood types that predates the Krever Inquiry.

Saskatchewan and New Brunswick have private blood purchasing locations. 

“The previous Alberta government passed the Voluntary Blood Donation Act in response to private blood buyers like Canadian Plasma Resources, who were hoping to open locations in Alberta. Canadian Blood Services does not buy from these companies, so it’s unclear where the blood or plasma purchased in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick is going,” the NDP release said.

Shepherd said: “This isn’t a partisan issue – our single public voluntary system has served Albertans well for decades, and through this global pandemic.  Allowing private buyers to divert donations away from Canadian Blood Services will cause terrible harm to Canada’s supply. Tany Yao’s bill is a terrible mistake, and I hope members of the UCP caucus will join us in defeating it.”

Peter Martin Jaworski, Ph.D., an Associate Teaching Professor in Strategy, Ethics, Economics and Public Policy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business has made the case for allowing blood products to be sold.

“In order to meet the demands of patients, every country has come to rely increasingly on plasma from the United States, one of the few countries that permits some form of payment for plasma. The United
States is responsible for 70% of the global supply of plasma. Along with the other countries that permit a form of payment for plasma donations (including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Czechia), they
together account for nearly 90% of the total supply,” he wrote in a paper called Bloody Well Pay Them.

“This situation is unsustainable, a risk to security, and, most importantly, a threat to the millions of patients who currently depend on plasma therapies, those who will in future, and those who would benefit from them but do not have access.

“In order to ensure a safe, secure, and sufficient supply of plasma therapies, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia should withdraw prohibitions on voluntary remunerated plasma collections, and thereby ensure domestic security of supply for our patients, and begin to contribute to the global supply of plasma.”

David Clement, Toronto-based North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said “If this is true, we applaud the Government of Alberta and MLA Tany Yao for putting this forward. A ban on paid blood plasma was ridiculous to begin with, especially considering that 70% of Canada’s blood plasma supply comes from the USA, where they compensate donors.

“Blood plasma is used for a variety of medical treatments, and plays and important role in the fight against Covid-19. Our hope is that by allowing for compensation, more Albertans will donate blood plasma and help the province overcome the persistent shortages that occur. Czechia (previously the Czech Republic) legalized paying for blood plasma, and saw a 7 fold increase in donations. If that were to happen in Alberta it would be cause for celebration, not condemnation.” said Clement.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Road closures as British Columbians brace for more rain

Closures will impact Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday.

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As BC braces for additional rain, the government has ‘proactively’ closed a number of highways for travel.

“We are actively responding, monitoring and assessing the many highway closures due to flooding and will continue to do so as we work with local and emergency service partners,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Safety is our top priority while we deal with a rapidly changing and difficult situation.”

Closures will impact Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday. The ministry said the time and duration of the closures will be weather-dependent.

“The highway infrastructure in these areas is extremely vulnerable following recent storms, and more heavy rain in the forecast poses an additional risk,” said the ministry in a press release.

“The closures of these three highways will be re-evaluated on Sunday morning, with the highways reopened when it is safe to do so.”

The release said Highway 1 will be closed between Popkum and Hope on Saturday afternoon as BC Hydro plans a reservoir release, “crucial to protect the Jones Lake Reservoir, which is also being affected by the heavy rains.”

The release explains the reservoir release will discharge water towards areas of Highway 1 that were affected during the November 14 storm.  

“This additional flow – combined with the increased precipitation and already high stream flows – poses a risk of impact to Highway 1 in the Laidlaw area.”

The ministry is bracing for further damage to Highway 1 in this area and said the reopening time cannot be determined at this stage but will be assessed by crews “when it is safe to do so.”

Highway 7 between Mission and Hope remains open with travel restrictions in place. Essential purposes for travel are defined in the travel restrictions order through the Emergency Program Act

Weather statements are in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Squamish to Whistler and the Sunshine Coast into next week. Storms are expected to bring more rain which has resulted in high streamflow advisories for all regions of the coast by the River Forecast Centre.

Ongoing road and travel updates are available on the ministry’s website.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Bill to aid jurors traumatized by testimony up for vote … again

Bill C-206 would amend a 1972 secrecy law to permit jurors to disclose confidential details of deliberations for the purpose of “medical or psychiatric treatment or any therapy or counselling.”

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For the third time in three years, legislators will attempt to pass an aid bill for jurors traumatized by graphic testimony in criminal courts.

“When we ask citizens to be a juror we don’t ask them to be a victim,” said Quebec Senator and bill sponsor Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.

“There is no excuse not to adopt that bill.” 

Bill C-206 would amend a 1972 secrecy law to permit jurors to disclose confidential details of deliberations for the purpose of “medical or psychiatric treatment or any therapy or counselling,” said Blacklock’s Reporter.

Two identical bills, S-207 and C-417, lapsed in the last two Parliaments.

“That kind of bill should be a government bill, not a private bill,” said Boisvenu.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of private interest. It’s a matter of national interest.”

In 2017, the Commons justice committee recommended the Criminal Code amendment after hearing testimony from former jurors who said they quit jobs, suffered marriage breakdown and were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being compelled to watch crime scene videos and hear testimony from coroners.

“Everyone’s mental health matters,” Ontario Senator Lucie Moncion said Thursday.

“Yet from a legal point of view, jurors are part of a special category of people who are denied complete health care. The secrecy rule prohibits a juror from disclosing information related to deliberations to anyone including a health care professional. This needs to change.”

Moncion was a juror in a 1989 murder trial and said the experience left her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“They show you the whole autopsy,” said Moncion.

“It was very difficult. This is still very difficult for me.”

Alberta Conservative MP Michael Cooper, a member of the 2017 Commons justice committee that recommended reforms, said delays were inexcusable.

“It should have been a no-brainer for the government to have brought this bill forward,” said Cooper indicating the bill has been “studied thoroughly.”

“There have literally been no arguments tendered against this piece of legislation.”

Cooper, in 2019, sponsored a similar bill – C-417 – that lapsed. MPs at the time noted U.S. jurors were free to discuss their experience with friends, family, psychiatrists or media.

“In the United States once a trial is over jurors are generally free to discuss the events of the trial and jury deliberations unless a specific court order bars them from doing so,” said Ontario Liberal MP Arif Virani, then-parliamentary secretary for justice.

“What that means is that jurors in the United States can talk with nearly anyone about juror deliberations including a talk show host on national television or across the Internet. This approach, which offers limited protection for juror privacy, is significantly different from the Canadian model.”

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Lock-down ignoring party host arrested again in Vancouver

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them,” said Sergeant Steve Addison, VPD.

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A man arrested by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) earlier this year for running a “makeshift nightclub” from his downtown penthouse has been convicted of new charges.

Mohammad Movassaghi was initially sentenced to 18 months probation in April, along with 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty in BC provincial court on counts of violating a public health order and selling liquor.

The 43-year-old man hosted hundreds of party-goers to his 1,100 square-foot penthouse near Richards Street and Georgia Street, equipped with cash machines, menus, and doormen.

VPD officers arrived at one of the parties on January 31 after a “witness” reported the event. One of the alleged doormen was issued several fines, however Movassaghi refused to open the door and was defiant with police. Officers returned early Sunday morning with a search warrant and subsequently issued over $17,000 in fines for violations contrary to the Emergency Program Act.

Large quantities of cash were seized as well.

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them,” said VPD Sgt. Steve Addison, following the January 31 arrest.

“If you are caught hosting or attending a party during the pandemic, and continue to break the rules, you could face stiff fines or wind up in jail.”

Of Addisons’ top concerns was the fact that “none of them were wearing masks.”

A GoFundMe was set up shortly after Movassaghi’s arrest, which stated he’d lost $15,000 in cash and liquor.

The campaign was shut down before it reached $300.

Judge Ellen Gordon compared Movassaghi’s actions with those of a drug dealer, specifically fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine. Her logic being COVID-19 can kill people, and so can fentanyl. Therefore there is “no difference.”

“What you did, sir, is comparable to individuals who sell fentanyl to the individuals on the street who die every day. There’s no difference. You voluntarily assumed a risk that could kill people in the midst of a pandemic,” said Gordon.

Fast forward to August and Movassaghi had violated the court orders again when he began hosting more parties in his penthouse, prompting a second VPD investigation leading to his arrest on Wednesday night.

He has since plead guilty of two counts of failure to comply with an order of the health officer and one count of selling liquor, says VPD.

Movassaghi has now been sentenced to 29 days in custody, 12 months of probation, and a $10,000 fine — leaving many wondering if he will switch up the location for his next party, possibly somewhere more discreet.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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